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Drop-dead gorgeous album - 90%

Necrobobsledder, March 3rd, 2006

Bands that mix a myriad of styles of metal are always appealing to me, so when I read Elend's genre description I was very intrigued. To my delight, I soon found the album available for download on someone's music blog. It took a little while for this to grow on me, but now I'm having difficulty not listening to it every waking moment.

Elend play what is described as dark ambient/atmospheric/neoclassical/symphonic music, and you might be wondering why the word 'music' is there instead of 'metal'. Interesting inquiry, indeed, since the metal elements are sparse. There is no abundance of heavy guitars, riffing, and the like but rather a keen focus and reliance on huge, sweeping symphonic arrangements, choirs, and spoken word sections.

What really shocked me about this album is how exceedingly dark and sinister it is, despite the beauty of this music. Upon reading that the lyrical topic of the band is just Lucifer, I somehow came to the conclusion that that was very appropriate for the effect this music puts out. Yes, it actually sounds like the soundtrack to hell at times. Large, oppressive choirs, chaotic walls of string instruments and keyboards,etc., and the deliberate progressive moan of the spoken word sections truly make for a terrifying experience.

These spoken word parts aren't normally what you think of when you think of spoken word sections because they are in fact used for most of the duration of the album. The choir and other instruments will set up a backdrop, and some very sleepy, nihilistic spoken vocals appear that narrate some story dealing with the opposition of good and evil and all things infernal.

What's great about all these songs is that they take their time to develop and don't ever rely too much on bombast in lieu of atmosphere. The effect of the music is lull you into a beautifully depressive vortex of which escape is futile. Each song is slow to mid-paced and is accentuated by the solo female vocals, choir vocals, spoken vocals, and symphonic atmospheres. Each one is great in its own way and the absence of any of these wouldn't make for quite as great of a synthesis of doom. Listening to it is much like listening to the soundtrack for a horror flick, albeit one that isn't too commercialized.

My only complaint about this release is that at times there really seems to be too much going on in the music. They should focus more on really bringing out the sound of each individual instrument in the mix. Also, I would like for there to be more piano sections and more of a guitar influence in the music. Not much, mind you, because too much would tarnish the soundscapes and individuality of this band. I'm just looking for a little more of an effort to show they are a metal band and can be identified as such.